Nitish Kumar resigns, Narendra Modi happy: JD(U) chief’s masterstroke saves Brand Nitish, but what next for Bihar?

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today submitted his resignation to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.

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Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar speaks to the media after meeting Governor KN Tripathi, in Patna on Wednesday. Kumar says he has resigned as Bihar Chief Minister and the governor has accepted his resignation letter. (PTI Photo)

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today submitted his resignation to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. Kumar’s decision, however, was not surprising as recent developments in the state had put his image of a no-nonsense clean politician at stake. Nitish has shown in past that he doesn’t make compromises in politics. He proved it again on Wednesday.

Kumar’s resignation is the result of RJD leader Lalu Yadav and his family members including son and Deputy CM Tejaswhi Yadav’s reluctance to come clean on the alleged corruption cases against them. Lalu, Tejashwi, his mother and former state CM Rabri Devi and sister Misa Bharti are facing probes by various agencies including the CBI and ED in a range of cases including alleged corruption, money laundering and benaami property.

Over the years, Kumar has worked hard to build ‘Brand Nitish’ which is praised by political pundits for the JD(U) leader’s zero-tolerance on corruption and an uncompromising attitude.

Two years ago, Kumar had surprised the country by ending a 17-year-old alliance with the BJP over the elevation of then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as the saffron party’s Prime Ministerial Candidate. Nitish formed a grand alliance with Congress and Lalu’s RJD and stopped the Modi-wave in 2015 Bihar Assembly elections. But in a mere span of two years, the grand alliance became untenable as corruption cases caught up with Lalu and his family members.

It was earlier reported that Kumar had asked for the resignation of Tejashwi from the post of Deputy CM. However, talking to reporters after submitting his resignation, Kumar said he had asked Tejashwi to come clean on the corruption charges against them but he failed. Later, Lalu quipped, “JD(U) office is not a police station”.

Lalu even made a desperate bid to attack Kumar’s character, claiming the latter is connected to RSS and has criminal cases against him. The RJD chief alleged that Kumar is a “murder accused.” Lalu’s remarks, however, hinted that politics in the state is going to be dirty in the coming days. A simple resignation of Tejashwi may have saved the grand alliance.

It has been rumoured in the last few months that Kumar has reignited his relations with the BJP. The rumours gained strength when Kumar supported several initiatives of Modi-led Centre, including demonetisation and nominating former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind for the post of President. On the basis of numbers, Kumar can still form a government with the support of BJP.

Even as Lalu and some other ruling leaders are hopeful that grand alliance would survive minus Kumar, it is possible that JD(U) would ally with BJP again in the next few days. Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi left a hint in this direction, saying he is against any mid-term election in the state or the Presidential rule. Whatever happens, Kumar has played a masterstroke in the tricky politicalscape of Bihar.

While Kumar’s image will get strong with today’s decision, he would have all the options in his hands. Prime Minister Modi acknowledged this by promptly congratulating Kumar for the decision.

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